Friday, September 11, 2009

John Chrysostom: Government is Because of Sin

For proof that this form of government necessarily followed from sin, listen in turn to Paul himself giving the rationale for it: "If you want to have no fear of authority, do the right thing, and you will win its commendation. But if you do the wrong thing, have fear: the sword is not carried to no purpose." Do you see that ruler and sword are there for wrongdoers? In any case, listen to a still clearer statement of this: "It brings vengeance to the wrongdoer." He did not say, A ruler is not without purpose: what, then? "The sword is not carried to no purpose." He appointed you an armed judge: just as a loving father in his goodness entrusts to fearsome tutors and teachers children who ignore him and scorn his fatherly affection, so too God in His goodness entrusted to rulers, like teachers and tutors, our nature that scorned Him, the purpose being for them to correct their neglect.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Sermon 4 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 69-70 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator.